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Michael Finneran For release: December 14, 1995
(804) 864-6121 (w) / 596-7936 (h)

RELEASE NO. 95-115


A furlough of federal employees would shut down NASA Langley Research Center’s labs and approximately 30 wind tunnels and cause research delays and lost data.

That would be the result of idling the majority of the 4,500 civil service and private contractor employees at NASA Langley. The exact number of employees who would not be furloughed was unavailable as of Thursday, but it is expected that fewer than 60 civil servants would be allowed to work. The number of contractors who would be allowed to work had not been determined Thursday.

Annually, NASA Langley contributes about $250 million to the Virginia economy, with nearly $200 million of it remaining in Hampton Roads (see chart next page).

Each day of a shutdown at NASA Langley would cost roughly $1 million to keep the Center running at a minimal level and if civil servants and contractors were paid.

The following is a sampling of the impacts that a 3-day furlough of federal employees next week would have at NASA Langley:

• X-33 and X-34 Reusable Launch Vehicle programs: Tunnel testing, model designs and fabrications, and other work would be severely impacted at Langley in the NASA-wide program to develop two new launch vehicles, one of which (the X-33) is intended as a candidate to replace the space shuttle.

• Flight tests: Unless the programs were extended, delays would occur and data would be lost from NASA Langley flight tests scheduled to take place on aircraft at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. One flight test series on an F-18 is aimed at improving the flight characteristics of jet fighters. Another scheduled to take place on an F-16XL is part of a program to develop technology for a next-generation supersonic passenger airliner capable of carrying 300 people at nearly 2-1/2 times the speed of sound, about 1,500 mph.

• NASA Langley’s B-737 aircraft, a “flying laboratory,” would be idled. The airplane has been flying virtually dawn to dusk missions to meet milestones for the supersonic passenger jet program.

• Some tests probably would have to be skipped in the 8-Foot High-Temperature Tunnel, which is being used to develop a jet engine that could fly “hypersonically” at speeds over 10,000 miles per hour.

• Lost time in one wind tunnel, the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel, could not be recovered because of an already compressed schedule resulting from a planned construction shutdown in the spring.

Langley contributions to economy

Virginia (fiscal ‘94): $240.2 million

• Awards to businesses $216.6 million

• Non-profit institutions $8.8 million

• Educational institutions $14.8 million

Hampton Roads (fiscal ‘94): $193.6 million

• Awards to businesses $177.5 million

• Non-profit institutions $8.6 million

• Educational institutions $7.5 million

Fiscal 1994 is the latest year for which figures are available.

Note the editors: More detail is available on furlough impacts through the Office of Public Affairs. Also, a 40-page “Economic Impact” report is available that shows NASA Langley’s contributions to the local, state and national economy.

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